MY LIKENESS TAKEN:
Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840-1860
By Joan L. Severa
303 p., 8-1/2 x 11
Kent State University Press
“As history has taught us, nothing stands still, and we must all kneel at the altar of progress….By the time of the Civil War, in 1861, the daguerreotype was mostly just a memory. In this volume, Joan Severa examines those first images in a refreshingly new way and gives us yet another tool for dating, understanding, and, most of all, appreciating the daguerreian portrait.” [From the foreword by Matthew R. Isenburg]
During the nineteenth century— a time of great technical and cultural change — fashion was a cultivating force in the development of American society, influenced by one’s social status, geographic location, and economic standing.
My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840–1860 is a collection of daguerreotype portraits of men, women, and children taken between 1840 and 1860. Selected from the top collections in the United States, each image is analyzed to clarify datable clothing and fashion components. With subjects from among the best-dressed members of society, these portraits—reproduced in full color—reflect the latest fashion developments, trends, and influences.
For students of photographic and costume history, this is extraordinary material. Many of these images have never before been published, and Severa’s keen analysis adds immeasurably to our understanding of the importance of dress in American society. Photo archivists and collectors, costume curators, social historians, material culturalists, and theater designers will find My Likeness Taken: Daguerreian Portraits in America, 1840–1860 an invaluable resource.
Joan Severa is retired from her position as curator of costume at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin. Her book Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans and Fashion, 1840–1900 (Kent State University Press, 1995) received the prestigious Davenport Award from the Costume Society of America and several other respected awards.